Here is an example of 文言文。 For native Chinese speakers, please help to translate if possible:

水陆草木之花,可爱者甚蕃。晋陶渊明独爱菊;自李唐来,世人盛爱牡 丹;予独爱莲之出淤泥而不染,濯清涟而不妖,中通外直,不蔓不枝,香远益清,亭亭净植, 可远观而不可亵玩焉。 予谓菊,花之隐逸者也;牡丹,花之富贵者也;莲,花之君子者也。噫!菊之爱,陶后鲜有闻;莲之爱,同予者何人?牡丹之爱,宜乎众矣!

April 28, 2018


I am unsure as to the purpose of your post. Do you need a translation for yourself, such as for school or for personal understanding? Are you attempting to teach 文言文 to Duolingo users? What language are you wanting a translation to?

《爱莲说》is from the Northern Song Dynasty and therefore is arguably not 文言文 in the common sense of the word. I am happy to help provide you with a translation, just a bit unclear.

One English translation by the great Herbert Giles: Line-by-line translation and explanation:

April 28, 2018

It is Classical Chinese, you shouldn't judge it only by the date.

To BBzqYK, if you want to learn this language seriously, you should use the traditional characters.

April 29, 2018

I respectfully beg to differ. "Classical Chinese" is like "Old English": covering many time periods and thus many different stages. 文言文 and 古代汉语 are not the same concept, either, and the former most often refers to its Qing Dynasty form rather than earlier permutations, which become closer and closer to the spoken tongue of the period the farther back you go. I am not only judging by the date, just going by how Chinese scholars (as well as modern textbooks, research papers etc.) normally differentiate. Even when we learn 《爱莲说》in primary school, it is never taught as 文言文 but as 古代汉语, and more specifically the 古文 form popular of the period. (Colloquially, of course, one could mix the terms, but the standard remains.)

Edited: I asked a literature professor about this, and he states that 爱莲说 absolutely does count as 文言文 despite being an older form, as the important thing is the differentiation between it and the vernacular, whatever the two were respectively at the time period. “骄傲使人落后”; my bad for speaking in absolutes!

April 29, 2018

Sorry, I was not debating on the terms (Classical C., Literary C., 古文, "古代漢語" etc.); just wanted to clarify it's not Mandarin or some hybrid.

The style of this essay is pure classical, like Renaissance Latin.

April 30, 2018
Learn Chinese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.